Nagatoro is a small town in Saitama prefecture about two hours from Tokyo via train. It is full of action packed activities.
On a fall Friday we left Yokohama on the first morning train and headed to Nagatoro. Our objective was to enjoy nature and view some autumn colors.
If you have a day to spare here is a suggested itinerary.
Upon arrival at the Nagatoro station head directly to the information center and grab a map. Walk a few steps to the riverboat ticket counter. (Highly recommend making on-line reservations, otherwise the wait could be up to three hours) There are two courses along the Arakawa River. B course is a calm ride down river with some nice scenery and A is a faster ride with occasional white water; both total around 6 kilometers.
At the boat landing, walk along the Nagatoro Iwadatami rocks for some excellent photo spots. Continue on to Tsukinoishi Momiji Park famous for their Japanese Maples. During November the park is illuminated at night.
Now it is time to head over to one of the many Soba or fresh water fish restaurants. We chose Daikokuya , a soba restaurant that serves a special walnut dipping sauce. It is well worth the 750 yen price.
With full stomach, take the walk to Hodosan Jinja Shrine. Built in 110 A.D. with very colorful sculptures and a beautiful forest background. Next hike up the road to Mt. Hodo Ropeway. At the top are excellent trails with plum trees and various flowers depending on the season. There is also a small zoo and a shrine, which is part of Hodosan.
The hike back down takes about 40 minutes and has some great views of the valley below. When you reach the bottom, turn to your right for a quick stop at Fudoji Temple, one of Nagatoro’s Seven Flower temples. Surrounded by beautiful Japanese maples, the small temple guarantees a very colorful photograph.
With the walk back to the station, you will have achieved a full day of fun and exercise. Total steps amount to 16 kilometers or 10 miles. If you are not into all the walking, there is a bicycle rental place at Nagatoro Station, with some electric powered bikes.
Additional attractions include the Arai Silkworm House/Town Museum and Saitama Museum of Natural History that includes some dinosaur bones found nearby.
Along Iwadatami Street there are enough restaurants/souvenir establishments to satisfy those who have a love for dinning and shopping.
If you want to get out of the city to enjoy nature, I highly recommend Nagatoro for a day to remember.